Friday, May 29, 2015


PICTURE AND TEXT from page 339 of "Animal Life and the World of Nature; A magazine of Natural History" (1902)

The Wallachian Sheep. Several of the con- tinental countries of South- East- ern Europe and South- Wester n Asia are the home of a very remark- able breed, or rather of several closely-allied breeds, of sheep characterised by the corkscrew-like form of the long and slender horns of the rams. As shown in our illustration, which is taken from a ram of the Wallachian breed, these sheep have black faces, ears, and legs, and long bushy tails. The fleece is also rather dark-coloured, and consists of long, shaggy wool mingled with hair. The most striking feature is, however, undoubtedly formed by the horns, which are present in both. sexes, although very much smaller in the ewes than in the rams. It is said these horns attain their finest development WALLACHIAN SHEEP in the Cretan breed. In the Wallachian breed, however, they are also of great length, and diverge at about an angle of 45 degrees from the middle line of the head. In the Hungarian breed the divergence is very much less, the two horns forming a narrow V- It will be seen that the horns form a regular closely-twisted corkscrew-like spiral, recalling that of the lesser kudu among the antelopes, and the markhor among the wild goats. By Linnaeus the spike-horned sheep was regarded as a species distinct from the one represented by the ordinary domesti- cated breeds; and there is much to be said in favour of this view. In Wood's " Natural History " there is, how- ever, a figure of a Walla- chian, or Cre- tan, sheep, in which the horns at first take a down- ward and in- ward curve like those of an ordinary rain, and then shoot up- wards in the straight corkscrew-like spiral, of which, by the way, the twists are much more open than in the specimen here figured. Whether this is true to nature or a fancy of the artist is not easy to determine ; if the former, it suggests that these sheep are nearer to the ordinary breeds than is commonly supposed. Apparently these sheep are by no means uncommon'in their native countries, although it is difficult to ascertain whether the}' take the place of the ordinary breeds, or whether they are a special half-wild breed. Authentic information on this point would be of interest.

No comments: